Tofurkey Day

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week at home where it was 85 degrees and sunny. Perfect.

thanksgivingI didn’t actually eat any Tofurkey though. Just pigged out on sides – stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes…. Mmmmmm. Getting hungry just thinking about it. For dinner I was in charge of the green beans and (of course) the dessert.

pie ice creamI made an easy pumpkin pie, recipe straight off the side of the Libby’s can with a frozen crust. It was delicious, but what really made it special was what we put on top!

Cinnamon Maple Ice Cream

Ingredients
3/4 C milk
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
1/2 C sugar

Instructions
1.
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except sugar. Gradually add sugar, whisking until dissolved.
2. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn until frozen.
3. Move ice cream to another container and freeze at least 2 hours.
4. Serve alone or on top of your favorite pie – pumpkin, apple, etc.

I did a bit of shopping while I was home and picked up a new donut pan for only $6.50! So exciting. I already had a mini donut pan, which I love, but sometimes you just need some regular sized donuts too. Priorities, right?

baked donuts

It’s still pumpkin season, and will be until I get tired of baking with pumpkin (which will never happen). They still have giant displays of canned pumpkin at the grocery store, which I take as an invitation to post more pumpkin recipes than anyone actually wants or needs to read. Hence this recipe.

pumpkin donuts 2

Pumpkin Donuts
Makes about 1 dozen regular donuts (or 6 regular and 1 dozen mini). Can also be made as muffins.

Ingredients
1 C sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/3 C applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash salt
1 1/2 C pumpkin puree
1 1/2 C flour
cinnamon sugar

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease donut pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugars, vanilla, oil, applesauce, and eggs. Mix until smooth.
3. Stir in powder, spices, and pumpkin.
4. Gradually add flour, mixing until a thick batter forms.
5. Fill pans almost completely full and bake until a tester comes out clean. Approximately 15 minutes for mini donuts and 25 for regular donuts.
6. Once donuts are almost cool, remove from pans. Fill a bowl with cinnamon sugar and coat donuts one at a time. Serve immediately.

pumpkin donuts

I woke up unreasonably early before class on Monday to make these. Needless to say my roommates were appreciative.

Cheesecake Party

I’ve gotten behind on my blogging again :( But I’m SO excited for all of the cooking I’m going to do over Thanksgiving! Since I’m so behind, I’ll make this a double recipe post just to make it up to you. The first one is a dessert you can definitely have at your Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s pumpkin. Of course.

A couple weeks ago, we had a party at our house. I’d been wanting to use my mini cheesecake pan again, so I thought, why not make cheesecake for the party? My roommates said, “WHAT? What kind of college party has cheesecake?!!” The best ones, of course. And everyone appreciated the cheesecake, so I win.

If you don’t have a mini cheesecake pan, you can still bake this in a regular springform pan, but scale everything back to 2 packages of cream cheese.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake
Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Ingredients
for the crust
26 regular (not Double-Stuf) Oreos – 2 rows in the package
4 Tbsp butter, melted
for the cheesecake
3 8oz packages cream cheese
3 eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cheesecake pan.
2. Put Oreos in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Pour in melted butter, stir. Press about 1 1/2 Tbsp into the bottom of each well in the pan (I found a shot glass works best for this – it’s really difficult with your fingers).
3. Bake crusts for 10 min. While they are cooling, begin the cheesecake.
4. With an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla until completely smooth.
5. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
6. Pour into each well, filling completely to the top. Bake 20-25 minutes until set.
7. Let cool about 15 minutes then remove from pans. Chill in fridge (or on your porch if it’s cold enough and your fridge is full like mine…) for at least 1 hour before serving.

So to go with all that cheesecake, I guess you might need some real food… maybe… Sometimes…

Quinoa Risotto
Serves 2-3.

Ingredients
1 C uncooked quinoa
2 C vegetable broth
1/2 C sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 C diced red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 C white wine
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/4 C goat cheese
3/4 C fresh spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
1.
Cook quinoa in vegetable broth, either on the stove top or in a rice cooker.
2. Saute mushrooms and onion in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add quinoa and cook a couple more minutes.
3. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Turn off heat.
4. Add cheese and spinach and stir until cheese is melted and spinach leaves are wilted. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Season!!

I’m so behind on my blogging! I’ve been crazy busy with school, dance, job interviews, blah blah blah that I haven’t had time to write up any of my new recipes! But it’s quickly becoming fall, meaning I’m quickly becoming more and more obsessed with the very best part of this season: pumpkin.

Like my collection? I like pumpkin everything. Pumpkin pie, Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts, pumpkin spice Eggo waffles, and of course… pumpkin.

Everything tastes good with a little pumpkin in it. Especially desserts. Which brings me to this new recipe…

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 18 cupcakes.

Ingredients
for the cupcakes
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash salt
6 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1/3 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1 1/4 C pumpkin puree
for the frosting
8 oz light cream cheese
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2-4 C powdered sugar

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, sift flour, powder, soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Mix in vanilla, milk, and eggs. Slowly add pumpkin and mix until smooth.
4. Gradually add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture until a batter is formed.
5. Fill pans about 2/3 full and bake for 22-28 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
6. For the frosting, with an electric mixer combine cream cheese, butter, and maple syrup. Slowly sift in powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.

These cupcakes were light and fluffy, just the way cupcakes should be. They lasted about a day in my house before my friends had eaten them all.

So I know what you’re thinking… Pumpkin comes in a huge can, but these cupcakes didn’t sure nearly that much! So what do you do? Well, you could just make tons of cupcakes, which would certainly be fine, or you could make the easiest and most delicious brownies known to mankind.

Pumpkin Brownies

Ingredients
one box of your favorite brownie mix
15oz pumpkin (I used half the 29oz can)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
chocolate chips, walnuts – optional

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 pan.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until a batter forms. Do NOT use the ingredients called for on the brownie box (eggs, oil, etc).
3. Bake 25-30 min until a knife comes out clean. Let cool, cut, and eat!

Enjoy the rest of pumpkin season!

Take Off Your Necklace

Traveling has given me this terrible identity crisis. My looks confuse people, I already knew that. At home, the most frequent guess I get is Hispanic. I’ve had people come up to me speaking Korean, Japanese, and even Armenian, completely shocked when I don’t understand. That’s why I was so excited when I came to Hong Kong – everyone here knows I am Chinese! 9 times out of 10, people speak Cantonese to me before English, even if I’m surrounded by people who are obviously foreign. Of course, I hate the look of disappointment on their faces when they realize I have no idea what they’re saying. That’s what made Beijing so awesome – I could actually respond! Usually I just said, “Please speak slowly, my Chinese is terrible,” but it’s something at least. Then I went to the Philippines this weekend, and it started all over again. So many people asked me if I was Filipina, and were surprised when I said no. People ask where I’m from, I say I’m American, and they say “But, but… you don’t look American.” How does one “look” American, anyway? That’s beyond me. But I’ve realized that I can look like a local pretty much anywhere I go. I’ve decided that from now on, when people ask where I’m from, I’ll give them a random answer and see if they call me out on it. Next time, I’ll be Vietnamese. Maybe after that I’ll be from Guam. Then Indonesia. I bet they would believe me.

Anyway, I spent this past weekend in and around Manila. The city is really unlike any I’ve ever been to. It’s beautiful, but very run down, and there are homeless people everywhere. I can deal with people begging, I’ve seen that before, but I wasn’t prepared to see so many homeless children. You walk anywhere in the city and a three or four year old child will run up to you with their hand stretched out.

Since the city is kind of (really) scary, we took two day trips on Friday and Saturday, and just spent half of Sunday around the city before our flight. Friday we went to the Taal Volcano, about 30 miles south of Manila. We took a van to Tagaytay, then a small boat across the lake to the volcano, which got us completely soaked! My friend said she saw online that we might get a little wet on the way, but we thought it couldn’t possibly be that bad, and turned down the offer for a plastic poncho. By the end we were completely drenched.

Once we made it to the island, we rode horses up to the top of the volcano. I don’t know if you could really call them horses… They were all very small. But definitely way too big to be called ponies. I don’t know. But mine was named Jericho and my butt still hurts from his stupid saddle. When we finally made it to the top, we were greeted by one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Back down the hill on the horse, back across the lake on the boat (we got soaked again), and there was lunch waiting for us at the boathouse. When they had asked me if I wanted my fish fried or grilled, I didn’t realize it was actually my fish. That is, they gave me a fish. A whole fish. Tilapia. With scales and fins and a face. A FACE. Staring at me. Making me feel terrible for eating him. But he was delicious. He even had bell pepper and onion fish guts inside. They catch them out in the lake; I’ve definitely never had fish that fresh in my life.

On Saturday, we were supposed to go to the Pagsanjan waterfalls, but the weather had other thoughts in mind. Instead we ended up at Villa Escudero, a coconut plantation about two and a half hours outside Manila.

This place was weird. They’ve tried to make it into this tourist attraction, but it just came out all strange. You ride in a cart pulled by a water buffalo to the other side of the “resort,” and all along the way are these cheesy colorful statues made to look like people working in the plantation. The weirdest part is the museum, which is a huge hot pink building made to look like a church.

It’s not really a museum. It’s a bunch of crap collected by the Escudero family all stuffed into one building. They’re pretty much just rich hoarders. There’s a ton of religious stuff, like crosses and awkward Jesus statues, hunting knives and the heads of animals killed by the guy, coins from around the world, old perfume bottles, spoons, WWII memorabilia, and tons of Chinese porcelain. They won’t let you take pictures inside, and the guides continuously stress how rare and expensive all the items are.

The coolest part of the whole place is the restaurant. There’s a fake waterfall and you sit right in it. You take off your shoes and sit with your feet in the water. Such a neat idea! And it’s a big buffet of Filipino food. My favorites were the jicama just because I love jicama, green beans with pumpkin or some kind of squash, and the fried bananas. I must have eaten three or four of those. Yum.

This was the first time I’ve eaten a big piece of chicken since I started eating meat again. When I have to eat meat, I prefer it cut up into little pieces so I don’t really have to look at it. With the tilapia, I could at least use a fork, but I had to use my hands for this. Freaked me out a little. Okay, a lot. But I was determined to try everything.

On Sunday we went around Manila for a few hours. We rode jeepneys to the national museum, Rizal Park, and finally to Chinatown. If you’re ever in the Philippines and are in the mood to buy useless crap, Chinatown is the place to be.

I kept my eyes peeled for Taco Bell the whole time I was there, but never found one. Manila has even more American fast food than Hong Kong. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Dairy Queen, even Krispy Kreme! I really could have gone for a seven-layer burrito though…

Scorpions Taste Like Bacon

Today was the last day of my Chinese class. For whatever reason, it ends three weeks before all the rest of my classes, so now I have five day weekends. For the oral portion of my final, I had to choose a topic and talk for two minutes – I decided to talk about my trip to Beijing! Here’s my script, in case you’re curious:

上个星期我去了北京旅行。我的朋友都不会说汉语,所以我跟北京人说了很多普通话。我们在北京玩儿得非常好!我们参观了前门,天安门,故宫,天坛,还有 颐和园 。颐和园的风景最漂亮。那儿有一个很大的湖,可以坐船。我们在金山岭长城走了四个多小时。走完以后,我们太累了!我们也去了王府井小吃街。那个地方有很多好吃的菜。我吃了冰糖葫芦,羊肉串儿,煎饼果子,还有麻团儿。这些东西都很好吃!还有,我吃蝎子了,吃得坏!我很害怕!

Of course, now I have to tell you that same story but in English, but I really don’t know where to begin. I had an amazing five days in Beijing. I was with a couple Americans and a ton of Danes, and I was the only one who knows (well, sort of knows) Chinese, so naturally I got quite a bit of practice in! Sure, I was speaking in broken sentences the whole time, but it was great to talk to real people outside of a classroom.

Our hostel was right by 前门 Qianmen, so the first day we mostly walked around there. Qianmen means “front gate,” meaning that was the southernmost gate on the wall that used to surround Beijing. A ton of places in the city end in 门 “men” because they used to be gates!

In addition to the actual gate, Qianmen has shopping (regular and market-style) and tons of food.

My first meal in Beijing! The best thing about being in restaurants was speaking Chinese to the waiter/waitress. I can’t tell you how many times I asked 您有没有英文菜单?Do you have an English menu? First thing I noticed right of the bat was that restaurants serve a lot more vegetables than the ones in Hong Kong. The one on the right was my food – chicken with peanuts, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, and onions. I miss veggies! The little cakes in the center are fried pumpkin with a bit of red bean inside.

Beijing street food is generally amazing, but especially in Qianmen. Everywhere you turn there’s a little counter selling all sorts of cakes, buns, fried tofu, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. One of my favorite things was 冰糖葫芦 bingtanghulu, skewers of candied haw berries. They have just haws, haws covered in sesame seeds, or haws cut in half with orange slices in the middle, and even skewers of candied strawberries, grapes, pineapple, or kiwi. I like the plain haws the best, but you have to look for ones with cuts down the middle – that means they’ve taken out the seeds, which can be pretty painful if you bite down on one accidentally. It’s a bit more expensive when you get it that way, but even then it’s only about 8元 max. The ones with seeds are a cheap as 1元.

On the second day, we got up bright and early, left the hostel around 6am for 金山岭长城, the Great Wall at Jinshanling. It’s a couple hours northeast of the city, but I’d say it’s definitely worthwhile to make the trek all the way out there rather than going to the 八达岭 Badaling section which is much closer. There’s nothing I hate more than pictures with people in them, and once you’re all the way out there it’s pretty easy to get some gorgeous shots of the wall without any tourists, whereas Badaling is super crowded. That also means it isn’t as well restored in some places, but that can be good, too. We walked for around four hours; I didn’t realize it would be so steep in some places!

It was the perfect day for the Wall. Pretty cold in the morning, but once we got walking we warmed up quite a bit, and it was the least hazy of all the days we were there. You really could see on forever, mountains behind mountains behind mountains.

After a long day, we finally made it back to the city and went to 鬼街 Guijie, Ghost Street, for dinner, near 东直门 Dongzhimen. It’s a couple blocks of all restaurants, and at night people will set up little tables where they try to sell you overpriced souvenir crap.

We were in need of some delicious 烤鸭 roast duck, so we got some of that as well as something called 杂粮包 zaliangbao. I’m not sure if it has a real English name, but Google Translate tells me that means “cereal package.” So I’ll just stick with zaliangbao.

It’s little bowls of steamed bread, with veggies and meat that you put inside! I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this before. Such an interesting change from the usual noodles and rice.

Friday we headed first to 天安门 Tian’anmen Square and 故宫 The Forbidden City, both of which were walking distance from the hostel. I couldn’t believe how crowded these places were. There were tons of tour groups – 20 or so little old Chinese ladies all wearing the same bright orange baseball cap, following some guy with a big flag and a megaphone. In the Forbidden City, you can look inside the buildings but you can’t go into most of them, and wherever there was an open spot to look people were pushing and shoving! After awhile, I just decided it wasn’t even worth it to fight my way through. The buildings themselves are already gorgeous, not to mention the gardens, so who really cares whether or not you get to see the Emperor’s favorite concubine’s dressing room?

After that, we made our way over to 西单 Xidan for some 火锅 hotpot! I had a recommendation for a place called 海底捞 Haidilao, and it was soooo delicious, and very inexpensive. They have a few locations, and apparently they’re pretty popular – you should have seen the size of the waiting area.

Then we went to 天坛 Temple of Heaven. We got there after the actual temple was closed, but it’s a huge park, so it was still nice to walk around. There were so many trees! That’s one thing Hong Kong could definitely use more of. We also did a bit of market shopping.

Finally, the thing I had been waiting for: 王府井小吃街 Wangfujing Snack Street, a little alley off of 王府井大街 Wangfujing Street that sells tons of crazy street food. There was some normal food, of course, but I was most interested in the crazy When-In-China type food. They really do eat anything and everything in China, and in Wangfujing you can get it all, usually on a stick.

From top to bottom, left to right, that’s pidgeon; sea urchin; squid tentacles; scorpions, starfish, and seahorses; lizards and more seahorses; quail eggs; 羊肉串儿 yangrou chaur (lamb kebabs); mini lobsters (who knew they came that small?). I kept pretty tame with my choices: a corn on the cob, lamb, squid, and some chicken dumplings. I did, however, do something a little crazy. I ate 蝎子 xiezi. Scorpion. A big, huge, deep-fried black one.

Gonna be honest, I screamed a little, but who wouldn’t? It really did taste like bacon though. Disgusting bacon, but bacon nonetheless. No amount of peer pressure could get me anywhere near the grasshoppers or centipedes though. Nuh uh, no way. The scorpion was immediately washed down with some delicious haw berries.

On Saturday we headed northwest of the city toward 圆明园 Yuanmingyuan (the Old Summer Palace) and 颐和园 the Summer Palace. Yuanmingyuan was the Summer Palace for the Qing dynasty emperors until it was burned down during the Second Opium War in 1860. That’s where the newer Summer Palace comes in.

Three-quarters of the park is a huge manmade lake. Really, you see this thing and you’re just blown away. Definitely the best scenery of the trip (which I said in my Chinese final! 颐和园的风景最漂亮!)

Then we made our way back to the city, stopped by the 雍和宫 Yonghegong Lama Temple, and then 798 艺术区 Art District, basically the hipster-central of Beijing. Tons of interesting art galleries, cute little boutiques, and small coffee shops. We also went to the Olympic Park, where the games were in 2008; the stadiums were beautifully lit at night. Finally, we ended the night with cocktails at 什刹海酒吧 Shichahai Bar Street in 后海 Houhai. We found a place called the Lotus Blue that had a live reggae band! In the middle of Beijing, of all places.

Finally, it was our last day in Beijing. I really wanted to make it to the Ming Tombs, but that’s a bit outside the city and I was afraid we wouldn’t make it back in time for our flight. Instead we stopped by 孔庙 Temple of Confucius and did a bit of last minute shopping at the clothing market in 三里屯 Sanlitun. And got some more street food, of course.

The one on the top left is called 麻团儿 matuar in Beijing and other parts of northern China, but I usually call it 煎堆 jiandui. It’s fried glutinous rice flour covered in sesame seeds, usually with lotus paste inside. My favorite is when it has red bean, so I was a little disappointed to bite into the lotus paste, but I kept eating and found that there was red bean INSIDE the lotus paste! The top right is a crunchy, eggy pastry. Bottom left is a chewy cake-type thing with red beans, and the bottom right is a flakey, buttery bun. Outside of Qianmen, most street food comes from the back of someone’s bicycle. They attach a box of food to the back and just hang around somewhere. People sell fruit, roasted chestnuts, and my personal favorite, baked sweet potatoes.

Outside the Confucian temple, we got stopped by these adorable guys from Beijing University. They were all holding cameras, so at first I thought they wanted pictures of us (that happens when you walk around with blonde people in China), but instead they asked if they could each have a conversation with us and film it. It was homework for an English class. It was seriously the cutest thing that’s ever happened to me! They were all obviously very nervous, and kept checking their scripts whenever they forgot what they were supposed to say.

My last meal in Beijing. It was good, nothing special, but what I really liked was the English translation on the menu: eggplant face. The word for noodle, 面 mian, has several meanings, one of which is face. I laughed so hard when I saw that!

My five days in Beijing were definitely some of the most memorable yet. Honestly, I wish I could have stayed longer! Being able to practice my Chinese with real people was so great, too. I’m really sad I won’t have time to make it to Shanghai during my stay here in Asia, but I guess that just gives me a great excuse to come back.

My Bucket List

School has forced me, and everyone else, into a routine. We’re not as adventurous as we used to be, and time is running out. I have less than two months left in Hong Kong, and multiple weekends will be spent out of town (read: I will be in Beijing in approximately 36 hours). Realizing this, a couple of friends and I have written a Hong Kong bucket list – things we absolutely have to do before we leave. It’s actually a pretty long list, but I think I can finish it. I just can’t have so many lazy days.

Last Wednesday (have I mentioned how much I love having no class on Wednesdays?) I went to Big Wave Bay, another beach on the island. It’s mostly for surfing, but since I’m not exactly pro after my one lesson in Santa Cruz and the waves were a lot bigger than they were that day (hence the name Big Wave), I decided instead to just lay out on the sand, read my book, and watch my friends surf. Fine by me, it was so relaxing. I still can’t believe I went to the beach in November… it’s even too cold at home for that.

That evening, a friend and I found a great pasta place for dinner, cheap and pretty close to the dorms. I eat noodles almost everyday, but I still find myself wishing I had pasta sometimes! I had spaghetti with pesto, chicken and mushrooms… Mmmm. We stopped at a little fruit stand along the way because my friend spotted rose apples, or jambos, which she used to eat all the time in Malaysia. I’d never seen anything like it before, so I got one at had it for breakfast the next day. It was like a really crisp, crunchy apple.

Friday I knocked out two items on the bucket list. My two co-authors and I went to Kowloon Park, over in Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s actually a pretty big park, with an aviary! We didn’t go in, though, so I’ll have to go back another day. It was really nice, but strange to be around so much green and see the skyscrapers in the background.

Eventually we found our way to a footbridge, and on the other side was the most beautiful sunset. We were looking straight out into the water, and you can see the whole island skyline. Seriously, the pictures can’t do it justice.

After that, we rushed over to the Ko Shan Theater in Hung Hom for a Cantonese opera! It was pretty good, and the costumes were amazing. It would have been even better, though, if it hadn’t been three and a half hours long. The story wasn’t even that complicated, they just took forever to say anything! It reminded me of when I read The Good Earth in ninth grade. It takes five minutes for the girl to say something as simple as “I’m cold,” and another five for the guy to say “me too.” Without all the fluff, that show would have been an hour and a half, tops. The whole thing was in Cantonese, but they had subtitles on screens on the sides of the stage. That was fine, except the screens randomly shut off for a couple minutes a few times… It’s funny how quickly you can get lost. Also, the three of us where both the whitest and youngest people in the whole theater. I’m pretty sure people were staring.

The show was called 一捧雪, A Handful of Snow. Basically some guys were fighting over a jade goblet called “A Handful of Snow,” while using the goblet to get at this girl whose name was 雪艷, Xueyan. The first character in her name means snow, so I felt pretty cool and knowledgable explaining the double meaning to my friends. Spoiler alert: Xueyan ends up killing the bad guy while yelling “STAB, STAB, STAB!” It was pretty funny.

On Saturday I had a lazy day. I didn’t feel like doing homework, and I really wanted to go outside, so I decided to take a walk to the water. It was such a nice day, and the view of the skyline was absolutely clear. There’s a bit of grass, some benches, and a little boardwalk all along the water, so I took my book and read for a couple of hours. I wish I had a place like this back at school where I could do homework… not that we have the weather for it, anyway.

On Sunday, I finally got to try congee. I can’t believe I’ve been in Hong Kong for over two months and I haven’t had it yet! Wikipedia says it’s the same thing as jook, which my mom makes, but this seemed different. Maybe it’s just been too long since I ate meat for me to remember. Mom, I know you are reading this – is congee the same thing as the jook you make? Anyway, congee is rice porridge, and you eat it with this delicious fried dough stuff.

I got PUMPKIN congee with corn and pork. Yes. Pumpkin. Pretty much the first pumpkin food I’ve had all fall! It wasn’t exactly pumpkin pie, but it was good. Ugh, I could really go for some pumpkin pie now. I’m really sad I’m going to miss Thanksgiving. Best food of the year besides Christmas, and I’m missing that too. Someone, please make stuffing and sweet potatoes for me when I get home. I will love you forever.